Hey Lawdy Mama (blues song)

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"Oh Lordy Mama"
Single by Buddy Moss
B-side "Misery Man Blues"
Released 1934 (1934)
Format Ten-inch 78 rpm record
Recorded New York, August 8, 1934
Genre Blues
Length 02:42
Label Melotone (no. 13234)
Buddy Moss singles chronology
"When the Hearse Rolls Me from My Door"/ "Insane Blues"
(1934)
"Oh Lordy Mama"
(1934)
"Stinging Bull Nettle"/ "Love Me Baby"
(1934)

"Hey Lawdy Mama" (or "Oh Lordy Mama") is a Piedmont blues song recorded by Buddy Moss in 1934.[1] The song became popular among jazz musicians with early recordings by Count Basie and Louis Armstrong. In 1943, a version recorded by Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy, with vocals by June Richmond, was a hit, reaching number four on the Billboard R&B chart.[2] Since then, a variety of artists have recorded their interpretations of "Hey Lawdy Mama".

Early songs[edit]

Buddy Moss' "Oh Lordy Mama" is an uptempo twelve-bar blues with distinct vocal phrasing:

Meet me down at the river, you can bring me my shoes and clothes,
Oh Lordy mama, great God almighty
Said meet me down at the river, bring me my shoes and clothes
Says I ain't got so many, but I got so far to go

The song was performed as a solo piece, with Moss providing the vocal and guitar accompaniment.

After Moss' single, similar versions followed: "Oh Lawdy Mama" by Curley Weaver (Decca 7664, April 23, 1935)[3] and "Hey Lawdy Mama" by Bumble Bee Slim (Decca 7126, August 7, 1935). These were released before Billboard magazine or a similar service began tracking such releases, so it is difficult to gauge which of these versions was the most popular, although Bumble Bee Slim's title is the one most commonly used on later versions (and often credited to Slim, also known as Amos Easton). Moss himself recorded a sequel "Oh Lordy Mama No. 2" (ARC 6-04-56, August 21, 1935).

Meet Me in the Bottom[edit]

In 1936, Bumble Bee Slim re-recorded "Hey Lawdy Mama" with some new lyrics as "Meet Me in the Bottom" (Decca 7170, February 7, 1936).

Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes,
Oh Lawdy mama, great God almighty
Meet me in the bottom, bring my boots and shoes
I've got to leave this town I, got no time to lose

Earlier recorded versions of the song are not identified,[4] although Pink Anderson, who recorded a version of "Meet Me in the Bottom" in 1961 (which closely follows Slim's song), remembered the song "from just after the first World War".[5] Slim's "Meet Me in the Bottom" set the pattern for later versions by other artists, which would include elements of "Hey Lawdy Mama" and "Meet Me in the Bottom" as well as new lyrics.

In 1961, Howlin' Wolf recorded "Down in the Bottom" (also called "Meet Me in the Bottom"), a song credited to Willie Dixon (Chess 1793, May 1961). Although "Down in the Bottom" is different musically and it does not have the "hey Lawdy mama, great God almighty" refrain, Bumble Bee Slim's "Hey Lawdy Mama" has been identified as "the song that Willie Dixon transformed into the classic "Meet Me in the Bottom" for Howlin' Wolf".[6] The opening lines are reminiscent of Slim's "Meet Me in the Bottom":

Well now meet me in the bottom, bring me my running shoes
Well now meet me in the bottom, bring me my running shoes
Well I'll come out the window I, won't have time to lose

Versions of the song were recorded under different titles: John Lee Williamson's "Tell Me Baby" (Bluebird B8474, 21 July, 1939), Josh White's "She's a Married Woman" (Conqueror 9960, 16 May 1941),Oscar Woods's "Look Here Baby, One Thing I Got To Say" (Library of Congress, October, 1940) and Big Joe Williams's "Meet Me Around the Corner" (Bluebird B8738, March 27, 1941). Williams later recorded the song as "She's A Married Woman" (Bullet 337,1949) and "Meet Me In The Bottom" (Cobra Records, 1981.) Williams largely dropped the "Hey Lawdy Mama" refrain, and Blind Boy Fuller substituted a simple "Hey, hey" in his "Boots and Shoes" (Vocalion 03324, February 8, 1937). Brownie McGhee used a similar refrain is some choruses of "Bottom Blues" (Savoy 844, 3 March 1962). Bumble Bee Slim based another record closely on this song "Meet Me At The Landing" (Vocalion 03384, 4 November, 1936).

June Richmond renditions[edit]

In 1942, jazz singer June Richmond recorded the first of several versions of "Hey Lawdy Mama" during her career. Given the big band treatment by bandleader Andy Kirk and HIs Twelve Clouds of Joy, the song was performed as an uptempo swing-blues with a full horn section and vocals by Richmond (Decca 4405, July 14, 1942). The song reached #4 in the Billboard R&B chart during a stay of eight weeks in 1943. In 1944 and 1945 she recorded two more versions with Kirk (Hindsight HSR227, 1944; Swing House SWH 130, 1945). Richmond appeared in a "soundie" (an early music video) in 1944 singing "Hey Lawdy Mama" backed by Roy Milton's Solid Senders. She recorded another version of the song in 1945 with the Sonny Thompson Sextet (Mercury 2011, November 1945). Although Richmond's songs were called "Hey Lawdy Mama", they used the opening verses from "Meet Me in the Bottom".

Junior Wells and Cream adaptations[edit]

In 1965, Junior Wells with Buddy Guy recorded their interpretation of "Hey Lawdy Mama" for the influential Hoodoo Man Blues album. The song was performed in the style of a Chicago blues, with Wells (vocal and harmonica), Guy (guitar), Jack Myers (bass) and Billy Warren (drums). Wells added new lyrics to the song:

You wanna go out babe, too late at night,
Lawdy Mama, hey hey
You wanna go out babe, too late at night
I got a real funny feeling, you don't want to treat your daddy right

In December 1966, British rock band Cream recorded a version of Well's "Hey Lawdy Mama" for the BBC (released on 2003's BBC Sessions). When preparing material for their second album, Cream recorded another version of Wells' song (released in 1997 as "Version 1" on Those Were the Days). Later they recorded a version using Wells lyrics, but with a different backing arrangement (released in 1970 on Live Cream and as "Version 2" on Those Were the Days). Wells' lyrics and melody were subsequently replaced, creating "Strange Brew", a song which bore little resemblance to their earlier BBC performance or the Junior Wells song.[7]

Recordings by other artists[edit]

All titled "Hey Lawdy Mama", except as noted:

References[edit]

  1. ^ A different "Hey! Lawdy Mama – France Blues" was recorded in 1927 by Papa (or Little) Harvey Hull and Long Cleve Reed as "The Down Home Boys".
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942-1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 242. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  3. ^ Sometimes, the recording date for this single has been incorrectly identified as September 18, 1933.
  4. ^ Kid Bailey's 1929 "Mississippi Bottom Blues" and The Two Poor Boys' 1931 "Down in Black Bottom" have different lyrics and structure.
  5. ^ Charters, Samuel B. (1961). Pink Anderson Volume 1: Carolina Blues Man (Album notes). Pink Anderson. Prestige/Bluesville. p. 1. BV1038. 
  6. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Scrapper Blackwell, Vol. 2 (1934–1958) - Album Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  7. ^ Clapton, Eric (2007). Clapton: The Autobiography. Broadway Books. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7679-2536-5. 
  8. ^ Yanow, Scott. "The Jubilee Shows, Vol. 10: Nos. 56 & 51". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved September 7, 2010.